Friday, May 22, 2009

Deceased Obese Women in the News

Obese Woman Dragged From Home, Hauled Away After Dying
The Marion County Coroner's Office has come under fire after it was revealed that an obese woman was dragged from her home and hauled away on a trailer in front of family members following her death.
Teresa Smith, 48, who weighed 750 pounds, died Tuesday in her apartment on Indianapolis' northeast side.
Officials at the scene said that the deputy coroner made the decision to call a towing service to remove the body from the home.
"We debated for quite a while about how we were going to get her out of there and so we finally decided, since we didn't have a van that was large enough to carry her, it was decided between (the police) department and the coroner's office to use (the truck)," said Detective Marcus Kennedy.
Smith's boyfriend and the couple's 13-year-old son, along with several neighbors, watched as Smith's body, still on her mattress, was dragged across the courtyard of the apartment complex, strapped down on the wrecker and covered with a piece of carpet.
"I think they should have handled it differently, putting her on a flatbed like they did. That was like putting a cow up there," said Smith's boyfriend, David Johnson.
Neighbors said they were also disturbed by the ordeal.
"What really got me is when they took her off onto the flatbed, they threw this dirty, dirty carpet on top of her, and I just thought that was so disrespectful," said a neighbor, who did not want to be identified. "I would have never let them throw that on my loved one."
Once on the truck, Smith's body was escorted by police downtown to the coroner's office.
Former Chief Deputy Coroner John Linehan said he was shocked and dismayed that appropriate steps weren't taken to remove the woman from her home.
He said that fire and medical personnel have equipment available for handling patients up to 1,000 pounds and that moving obese individuals is not all that rare of an occurrence.
"When they scoop up dead dogs off of the street they don't treat them that way," he said. "It's just not the way to treat a human being."
Chief Deputy Coroner Alfarena Ballew told Rinehart by phone Wednesday that a flatbed truck has been used in other occasions to move obese individuals. She said the office is now looking for a way to transport Smith's body from the morgue to the funeral home.
The Indiana State Coroner's Association said it has no specific recommendations to handle extremely obese people. The decision is left up to each county.
Coffin 'too big' for crematorium
A woman has had to be buried after council officials ruled her coffin was too big for cremation.
Falkirk Council said that despite Betty Wilson, 79, losing both her legs to diabetes, the width of her coffin exceeded the limits of their cremator.
The decision has been criticised by Mrs Wilson's daughter Liz, who has called for facilities to be bigger.
The council said its crematorium could accommodate coffins up to 28in wide, 81in long and 22in deep.
Mrs Wilson died at Bonnybridge Hospital on 25 April after suffering from a heart condition.
She had expressed a wish to be cremated in Camelon, not far from her home in the town's Fairlie Street.
However, family members were told by undertakers, Co-op Funeralcare, that a specially-made coffin would have to be created for Mrs Wilson and that it would not fit into the cremator at Camelon.
'Family requests'
A spokeswoman for the undertaker said: "The family were advised to go to South Lanarkshire where there is a larger facility. However, they decided that they would prefer a burial."
Mrs Wilson's daughter Liz told the Falkirk Herald she was stunned that her mother would not fit into the crematorium.
She told the paper: "We're always hearing that people are getting bigger so they should be thinking of these things and not upset family members in this way."
A Falkirk Council spokeswoman told the BBC Scotland news website that in the past 25 years the issue had affected five funerals.
She added: "We strive to accommodate family wishes at what can be a very distressing time.
"Unfortunately in particular circumstances the cremators are unable to accommodate family requests for this service.
"The three cremators have been in place since 1997 and undertakers are aware of the dimensions of our facilities."

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